I’ve read dystopian stories in the past, and they’re all pretty desolate places to immerse yourself in (duh!). But I don’t think I’ve ever read one so downright depressing as Ration. This isn’t a complaint, though.
Set (I assume) in the future, this novel follows two girls who ‘live’ in a place called The Apartments, which in turn, is a Farm.
Now this isn’t the kind of farm you’re thinking of. No, in this particular building it’s the girls themselves who are farmed. Murdered and turned into food, or ‘rations’ that the others subsequently feed on, these girls have nothing to live for. Their life experiences are all but thwarted, and their ‘education’ is one of perverted truths and downright lies.
The Apartments are run by two sadistic women, Ms Glennoc and Ms Tuttle, with the former being quite the bitch. To begin with, anyway.
Cynthia and Imeld are the girls we’re rooting for, although there doesn’t seem much point to be honest. What hope do they have of a ‘normal’ life? Or does simply escaping their current existence constitute success?
As mentioned, this book is so bleak and without hope, but this is credit to the writing. Your supposed to feel terrible for these girls, if not the whole premise of the story would fail. Luff’s descriptions paint the world in dour greys splattered with murderous reds. The Wet Room – where the girls are taken to meet their doom – is especially creepy.
The rations that these girls will eventually become are so vividly described that you can almost taste the rotting meat between your teeth, and feel the grime under your fingernails.
These rations and those that order them through archaic vending machines, are strictly monitored in the Farm. When a large dose of the premium ‘A’s are taken, all hell breaks loose inside.
Cynthia is taken away with Ms Glennoc to the slums of the city, where girls try to survive this hostile and unforgiving world. Is Glennoc really a mega-bitch, or is all her horrible behaviour simply ‘character building’?
It’s only when Ms Glennoc leaves that Ms Tuttle becomes even more tyrannical in her treatment of the girls. And you thought Glennoc was bad?? Ms Tuttle is slowly losing her mind and grip on reality, and her descent into madness is captured brilliantly.
Despite Cynthia’s cruel treatment by Ms Glennoc, there is still a hope inside her that things can change, and that is what drives the novel. You never give up on her, willing her to turn kick-ass on these bastards!
Have you noticed how all the characters mentioned thus far are women? Well that’s because there are no men in this story. Nope, none at all. Something happened in the past that caused the men to disappear or die, but we’re never specifically told what. On one hand I found this a little frustrating as I wanted to know more about this desolate, dystopian world. But on the other, the lack of knowledge really puts you in Cynthia’s shoes (although not literally – she doesn’t have any) as she too is discovering exactly what this place is.
You’ll read this yearning to read or watch something funny afterwards. But I found the writing to be so encapsulating that even though the subject was something so dark and terrible, it had me hooked throughout.
Categories: book review